Many Americans have misperceptions about yoga, and for some these may be barriers to practice, according to the 2010 Yoga Insight Survey conducted in December 2009 for the Yoga Alliance. Survey respondents’ most common misperceptions included the following:
Client: Keri Hehn
Personal Trainer: Kimberly Fowler, Yoga for Athletes®, founder of YAS Fitness Centers
Location: Venice, California
First Steps. Like many competitive swimmers, Keri Hehn dreamed of qualifying for the Olympic team. A member of the U.S. Swim Team, she spent hours every day in the water, struggling to improve her 200-meter breaststroke time. During the qualification trials for the 2008 team, Hehn’s efforts fell short by 0.2 second.
Rajashree Choudhury and her husband, Bikram Choudhury, creator of Bikram Yoga, are enthusiastic about establishing yoga as a competitive sport in the United States. According to The New York Times, Mrs. Choudhury has established two nonprofit organizations, the United States Yoga Federation and the World Yoga Foundation, and has been staging regional competitions throughout the United States that will culminate in a national championship competition. The ultimate purpose is to enable yoga to qualify as an Olympic sport for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
More medical centers are offering yoga programs as a complementary practice for their cancer patients. Leading institutions that are following this trend include the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston; Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York City; M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The presence of these programs demonstrates the increasing acceptance of yoga as a complementary therapy. A growing body of research evidence indicates that yoga helps cancer patients improve their quality of life.
Twenty minutes of meditation and yoga per day combined with six 1-hour weekly group sessions lowered feelings of stress by more than 10% and improved sleep quality for office workers, according to a pilot study published in Health Education & Behavior (2009; 36 , 601–14).
Sustainability issues are on everyone’s minds. The Green Yoga Association is an organization founded to help studios and practitioners foster a connection between ecology and yoga. The association is involved in a number of
programs, including efforts to eliminate plastic water bottles from yoga events and studios; keep PVC and harmful chemicals out of yoga props; educate and support yoga teachers and studios; unite like-minded people for practice, activism and fun; and plant fruit trees to offset carbon emissions.
The benefits of yoga go beyond more flexible hamstrings, a stronger core or less back pain. Yoga has the power to make your more resilient to stress. It reminds you of your inner strength. It can give you back a sense of joy and purpose.